When your doctor calls and leaves a message while you are pregnant you know something isn’t right.
After completing my one-hour fasting glucose test (the diabetes test where you drink the sickeningly sweet drink and then get blood drawn an hour later) my doctor called me to let me know I needed to come back in for additional testing – it looked like I may have gestational diabetes. I was disappointed, to say the least, and confused. I didn’t have gestational diabetes with my first big baby boy, and I hadn’t gained more than the recommended amount. How could I have gestational diabetes?
After a grueling three-hour test, the results were in: I had gestational diabetes.
So now what?
Well, after meeting with a nutritionist who specialized in patients with gestational diabetes, I was able to monitor my glucose (blood sugar) and manage my condition by modifying my diet.
Here are five tips for managing gestational diabetes:
Now that I had to take my blood sugar reading one or two hours after a meal, I made myself a human science experiment. I found that a short 20-minute walk after a meal would bring my one-hour post-meal blood sugar almost back to fasting! I wasn’t able to walk after every meal but tried to fit in a quick walk after lunch and dinner to help manage my blood sugars.
I always considered myself a healthy eater, but as a marathon runner, I was a big carb eater. I didn’t realize how many carbs I was getting in a single serving (and when I was running I needed those carbs so it didn’t matter as much). I found that a high protein pasta (like Barilla Plus) would digest in a way that made my one-hour blood sugar reading almost back to fasting.
Pair sweets with your meal AND a walk: What do you mean I can’t have my ice cream after dinner?! This was a staple while pregnant with baby number one, and I wasn’t sure I could mentally give up my nightly treat. I found that I could still have a cup of ice cream after dinner if I ate it with my meal AND took my walk. Totally worth it!
I have never been a snacker but found that eating breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack helped keep my blood sugars stable. This was hardly a transition, but by making mealtime portions smaller I was able to start looking forward to my snacks. Use technology to track your meals.
No one is perfect, and it is ok to eat a cupcake at your baby shower. Just make sure you aren’t eating high sugar treats all the time, and pair it with healthy eating and light exercise, and you and your new baby will be fine! If you miss a reading, it will be ok, just make it up on the next meal.
After my second baby, we were both tested and our blood sugars measured normal. I learned that having gestational diabetes is a risk factor for developing Myotonic Dystrophy, type 2 diabetes after pregnancy. I am careful to keep up my exercise routine and am more mindful of when and how I eat. If healthy eating habits, target weight, and exercise are not maintained a woman has a 60% increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 yrs after birth. Also, a baby born to a mother with gestational diabetes has a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes as an adult.
If you find out you have gestational diabetes, work with your doctor to find a plan that works for you. Take advantage of the extra coaching and keep up with your nutritionist – the end results of a healthy baby and mama are worth it!